Islamic Republic vs. Women
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC vs. WOMEN
By Arzo Yusuf
#Mahsaamini has been trending all over social media for almost two weeks because Mahsa, a young 22-year-old Kurdish woman was murdered in cold blood by her country’s morality police for “improperly” wearing her hijab. Mahsa was visiting relatives with her family in the Islamic Republic of Iran where her life ended. Mahsa was caught with hair showing. She was forced to attend morality class to learn how to properly wear the hijab. But that was not enough for the morality police for they decided to arrest her. In arresting her, they beat her to death.
In the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, it requires women to dress modestly, but this is open to interpretation. Many Muslims interpret modesty to be western clothes or include a simple veil or traditional hijab while others require a burqa or niqab. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s current laws on mandatory hijabs for women enforces very strict hijab laws for women. For example, not a single hair must be showing under a woman’s head covering. Mahsa’s brutal death has added fuel to the fire over the existing disgust citizens feel towards their dictatorial government. This has led to nonstop protests with women all over the world posting on social media #burnhijab, protesters in Iran burning their hijabs and cutting off their hair. From the looks of it, it appears to be the start of a true women’s revolution.
CNN journalist, Christiana Amanpour, was set to interview the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran about Mahsa's killing but he refused to be seen with her according to Amanpour. She said that she felt he didn’t want to be seen in public with a woman who was not wearing a hijab. Amanpour also shared that 80% of the population of Iran is under 21 years old and that more than 60% of that segment are women. She said that the women have a tremendous amount of power. Iran has had a long history of unrest with their government. In 1979, Iran became an Islamic Republic governing the country by the rules of Islam. There is no separation of church and state and the interpretation of the law is up to the government. In an interview with Trevor Noah on the Daily Show, Amanpour said, over the last four decades, various rulers enforced the Islamic laws differently, some more conservative and stricter than others. The current President, she said, has chosen to enforce very strict Islamic laws.
Very similarly, with the recent fall of Afghanistan in 2021, the country fell to the hands of the Taliban who changed the country’s name to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and also having no separation between church and state. The Taliban has been governing the country by enforcing strict Islamic laws. In the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a hijab is not enough. A woman must be completely covered in a burqa so she is not seen at all. She has also lost her right to be in public without a male chaperon, it is illegal to attend school or even work. Life for women in Afghanistan is over and they have been reduced down to cattle, an asset that exists for the ownership of Muslim men.
Within the Islamic community there is much discourse over what is happening. Many Muslims are voicing themselves to defend Islam by claiming that the religion is full of fairness and it is a champion of women’s rights. This may or may not be the case since Islam is known to be open to interpretation and without being a religious scholar, it is difficult to debate religious text. What is obvious is that there is a trend among countries that govern based on Islamic laws. Countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and many others choose to govern in ways that violate the human rights of women. When a country allows these types of actions by rule of law, it creates a behavior pattern in society which overtime forms a culture. The culture surrounding Islam around the world, unfortunately is that of oppression, senseless violence, slavery and too many times, the murder of women.
If the Quran states that women must be respected and honored, then the Muslim men who kill, attack and abuse women are in direct violation of the holy text. In India, Pakistan and Egypt, it is commonplace that if a man’s marriage proposal is rejected by a woman that she becomes the victim of an acid attack that either kills her or if she lives, she becomes disfigured for the rest of her life. Honor killings exist to this day all over the world, even in the U.S. When a Muslim man feels that a female member of his family has dishonored the family, in extreme cases, he murders her. In Egypt, Sudan and other Islamic countries, in the year 2022, female genital mutilation still exists; the surgical removal of a woman’s clitoris which is a standard practice based on Islamic interpretation. Many other Muslims protest this act stating that it is not in the Quran.
These countries that govern based on Islamic law are deeply rooted in male dominated patriarchy. Domestic violence exists in over 50% of Muslim households. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or financial. In traditional eastern cultures, women are often seen as objects for ownership. When a woman gets married she becomes a servant to her husband and his family. She has no voice and must stay in line. She’s not a wife but a family slave. She is often verbally, emotionally and physically abused. Her body is used for her husband’s sexual gratification and usually she goes through her entire life never experiencing an orgasm. She is not to speak up and share her true thoughts. She is to uphold her husband’s and the family image to the community even if it means living a life tolerating abuse. If she speaks up, they gaslight her and convince her the abuse isn’t real and to do better as a wife. In the year 2022, millions of women all over the world are enslaved by their husband, family, community, society and religion. The slavery of women has existed for thousands of years and barbaric acts of violence against women including rape and murder continues.
In this day and age, in the United States of America, the land of freedom, there are countless Muslim women that operate out of fear and will not even post a profile photo of themselves to their social media accounts because they are afraid of the reaction of their husband, family and community. When your existence makes you fear your community, there is a problem and it is time to face and address this problem. Men must realize that it is a woman’s right to choose if she will or will not wear a hijab. It is a woman’s right to be a mother or have an abortion. It is a woman’s right to choose whatever faith she wishes to practice or career she wants to pursue. When women’s choices are taken away from them, women have no freedom. Women are are slaves under the guise of “holiness.”
It is time to end the slavery of women! The only way for this to happen is for more people in the Muslim community to speak up. It must start within families, it must start by holding fathers, brothers and uncles accountable. The culture that surrounds Islam can change but it will only change when the women and her male allies speak up, demand respect and declare freedom. How many millions of women need to be murdered for change to happen?
It ends with Mahsa Amini.
It ends with Sareh Sedighi-Hamadani
It ends with Farkhunda Malikzada.
It ends with Frozan Safi.
The time is now.
If you’d like to be part of a live discussion to talk about this issue and share your thoughts, please join us on Clubhouse on Friday 9/30 at 6pm pacific time. Click here to join. (You must have the Clubhouse app downloaded)
In controversial times like this, violence against innocent Muslims increases and as a society we must act civilized, not harm others and encourage the same of our communities. In civilized societies, we should be able to criticize institutions without physically harming one another. It is the only way to grow, evolve and become a better society.